|The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World
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"Preach the Gospel always.? Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi
It's 1998 and Richard Stearns' heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.? His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.? It took answering God's call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America's finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.?
This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.? Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.?
Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.? Stearns believes it can happen again.
"Read this compelling story and urgent call for change-Richard Stearns is a contemporary Amos crying 'let justice roll down like waters….'? Justice is a serious gospel-prophetic mandate.? Far too many American Christians for too long a time have left the cause to 'others.'? Read it as an altar call."
--Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC
"Rich Stearns calls us to exhilarating obedience to God's life-altering, world-changing command to reflect his love to our neighbors at home and globally. The Hole in Our Gospel is imbued with the hope of what is possible when God's people are transformed to live radically in light of his great love."
--Gary Haugen, President & CEO, International Justice Mission?
"Richard Stearns is quite simply one of the finest leaders I have ever known.... When he became president of World Vision I had a front row seat to witness the way God used his mind and heart to inspire thousands.... His new book, The Hole In Our Gospel will call you to a higher level of discipleship.... Now is the time...Richard Stearns has the strategy...your move!"
--Bill Hybels, Founding and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
"Rich Stearns has given us a book that makes absolutely clear what God hopes for and expects from each of us.... He reminded me of my personal responsibilities and the priority I must give them and also where life's true rewards and fulfillment are to be found."
--Jim Morris, former executive director, United Nations World Food Program
"World Vision plays a strategic role on our globe. As the largest relief organization in the history of the world, they initiate care and respond to crisis. Rich Stearns navigates this mercy mission with great skill. His book urges us to think again about the opportunity to love our neighbor and comfort the afflicted. His message is timely and needed. May God bless him, the mission of World Vision and all who embrace it."
--Max Lucado, author of 3:16-The Numbers of Hope, Minister of Writing and Preaching, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX
"Rich Stearns has penned a passionate and persuasive book aimed at Christians who find themselves absorbed with their own existence, pursuing the American dream of health, wealth and happiness.? Rich traces his own spiritual journey from having it all, to sacrificial living on behalf of those who have nothing.? Not only is Rich eloquent, he's right."
--Kay Warren, Executive Director HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
"An urgent, powerful summons to live like Jesus. Stearns weaves solid theology, moving stories, and his own journey of faith into a compelling call to live the whole Gospel. Highly recommended!"
--Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action, Author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
"With passionate urging and earnestness, Rich Stearns challenges Christians to embrace the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ by embracing the neediest and most vulnerable among us.? After reading the moving stories, the compelling facts and figures, and Stearns' excellent application of scripture and his own experiences at World Vision, you will no doubt be asking yourself: What should I do?"
--Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship
"This book is a clarion call for the church to arise and answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"... If you read this book, you will be inspired, but if you do what this book is asking, you will be forever changed. Rich Stearns' book is like a safari for hurting souls that cannot be written in the safety of an office suite.... If you have been feeling something missing or an aching emptiness inside, read The Hole in our Gospel.? It will show you how to fill that void!"
--T.D. Jakes Sr., The Potter's House of Dallas, Inc.
"Rich Stearns' book is showing us through stories and examples how it is better to see a sermon rather than hear one.? This is an important book for all of us!"
--Tony Hall, US Ambassador and former US Congressman
"This is much more than "just another book" from a Christian leader.? It's a message to Christendom that we all need."
--Dr. Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University, author of Red Letter Christians?"This book represents a powerful personal story; face to face experiences with the poor which changed the author's life, plus, an insightful scriptural commentary.? As happened with Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision; Richard Stearns' heart has been broken with the things that break the heart of God.?? Now, Stearns is using his considerable CEO skills to serve the poor and oppressed.? I highly recommend this book."
--John M. Perkins, President, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc.
- "Do not fail to do something because you cannot do everything."
As I cracked open this nearly 300 page book I found a biography of a man that compelled me. Richard was a godly husband and father to 5 children and was the President of Lenox China before giving up his Jaguar, large home, and large salary to become the President of World Vision. He went from living the country club lifestyle to sitting in grass huts in Uganda feeding children who are starving. Why? Why did he give up the American dream?
Richard told the story of a pastor friend who went through the Bible literally cutting out with scissors, all the verses on poverty and then when he preached on poverty, he held his ragged, tattered Bible in the air and said "Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of holes...here are all the Biblical texts we ignore."
Richard goes into full detail about the epidemic of poverty in our world that American Christians just simply ignore. 26,500 children will die today due to causes related to poverty - whether it's starvation, dirty water, ravages of war, disease or AIDS. That's the equivalent of 100 jet liners crashing just today! He knows how Americans value our airplanes and hate to see one crash - so he compares the statistic to a plane wreck.
If we hear the story of a child dying in a car accident - we are sad for the family. But if we learn that it is our next door neighbor's child who died we are deeply grieved for the family. And if our own child dies - well - our world is turned upside down. For some reason we place less value on the children dying half way around the world than we do our own children - but GOD DOES NOT!
Oh, this book was so convicting as it told stories of children eating dirt patties with butter to ease their starving bellies. As I imagined the orphans of the AIDS epidemic spending most of their day looking for food and retrieving dirty water - I felt convicted about my own children and how they turn their noses up at their peanut butter and jelly sandwich that doesn't have the crust cut off!
What does God expect us to do about all this poverty? Richard reminds us of Matthew 25 where Jesus speaks of judgement day. Jesus says that the criteria for dividing the sheep from the goats will be:
"When I was hungry you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
The righteous ask "when did we see you hungry Lord?" And Jesus replied "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine , you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink..." And the righteous went to eternal life.
Wow - did you catch that? - the people who did not feed the hungry or give drink - went to eternal fire! God has a pretty STRONG opinion on what he expects us to do - wouldn't you say??? If you are like me - you spend much of your Christian days trying to do what is right as a mom, wife and servant in the church - avoiding the really bad sins. But this "squeaky clean" approach is not what God is looking at on judgement day. God is not just looking at our faith - but our evidence of our faith - and specifically - how we helped the poor.
I have to admit and be open here - this book completely humbled me - at one point in the book - I literally stopped reading and said out loud "shut up!" and began to cry. I am deeply grieved by my failure in this area.
I have shared much of my reading with my husband and children and I hope to make some strides forward in this area as a family - the task is so overwhelming but this one quote motivates me to try - "Don't fail to do something because you can not do everything."
I recommend this book and also want to encourage you to go to World Vision's website - http://www.worldvision.org - to see if there is anything that you can do to help those in need.
- A call to action
What would happen if we woke to this headline: "One Hundred Jetliners Crash, Killing 26,500"? Given that there's a public outcry (and rightly so) when just one jetliner crashes, I can't even imagine the media coverage, photos, government investigations, and economic impact of 100 crashing jetliners. And what if the same catastrophe happened the next day? And the next? Its almost inconceivable.
But it happens.
Every day more than 26,500 children die of mostly preventable causes related to their poverty. That equals 10 million children who die over the course of a year- all from preventable causes. And yet, as Christians, God tells us to take care of the poor and downtrodden. How do we reconcile 10 million dead children with Jesus' example? The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns attempts to answer this question, but the answer isn't an easy one. He argues that Christians have reduced what is supposed to be a life-changing Gospel to a single transaction for "fire insurance". As the CEO of World Vision, Stearns is perhaps uniquely qualified to discuss what he calls "the horsemen of the apocalypse"- the factors that work against the poor. Along the way, he tells his own story- from a boy deciding to save himself, to the CEO of Lenox china, to his call to lead World Vision.
Stearns details some of what he has seen as the CEO of World Vision. Obviously, he's had the opportunity to see a great deal of poverty and hardship in the world, as well as meet with people on the front lines who are making a difference. He does a great job of balancing statistics with individual stories, and of spreading hope as much as conviction. I felt that the book was a bit light on concrete ways to help, but I did appreciate that the author didn't push World Vision's agenda too much. Instead, he tells the stories of ordinary people who follow God's leading and do extraordinary things. His point is that we can ALL do extraordinary things- all that is necessary is that we bring what we have to God and let Him use it.
This book was an inspiring call to action. I'm still pondering what it is that God would have me (and us) doing, but I think it would be impossible to read this book and walk away unconvinced. There is an accompanying website, which contains a blog, testimonies, and other suggestions for getting started with giving. Stearns also puts his money where his mouth is- there is a note on the book jacket stating that all royalties from the sale of this book will benefit World Vision's work with children. In the end, it comes to this: Jesus gave his all for us, how can we do anything less for others?...more info
- Excellent questions for Christians
"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and and injustice when He could do something about it."
"Well, why didn't you ask him."
"Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question."
This is a well-written book covering four main topics:
1. The author's path from big-buck CEO to head of a Christian based charity (and how he tried to avoid it).
2. Information on world poverty including statistics, personal examples, and facts that show how we in the United States are very, very wealthy people but we just don't realize it(or admit it).
3. What Christians should be doing about poverty around the world--and what they waste their time and efforts on instead (and the excuses we make to avoid the work we should be doing).
4. How the world could be transformed if Christians would only do what Jesus told them to do (and examples of world transformation started by individuals and groups already). And how the world view of Christians would be transformed in the process.
The title of the book, "The Hole in Our Gospel," concerns what our personal Bibles would look like if we cut out all the verses that we do not practice.
Even with all that religious sounding stuff, this is not a "preachy" book, just a matter-of-fact, well-written book that points out what Jesus wants us to do, shows us the work that needs to be done, leads us to ask ourselves if we are doing the job that Jesus left for us to do, and encourages us to find a way in our own lives to do that job.
The book is written in a easy-to-read, informative manner that has one wanting to get to the next page. It also should leave Christians uncomfortable in our lack of following the instructions in the Bible--the parts we skip over, or as the author says, the parts we may as well cut out because we don't pay attention to them anyway. It is these parts of the Bible we do not heed (REALLY help the poor, etc.) that we may as well cut out--leaving us with "Holes in Our Gospel."
Every Christian should read this book. Every person, Christian or not, would profit from it. I already pointed out the four main topics of the book, but the main question the author asks is this: How many holes are in MY Bible.
- We Can Make A Difference!
Richard Stearns ,a Christian, was a very successful CEO living the American Dream, but God had other plans for him. He called him to leave his life of comfort and become the president of World Vision.
Stearns challenges us to read the gospel and determine if we are living the gospel that Jesus called us to. Jesus told us we must help the poor, and yet here in America we live as rich people, while in other parts of the world many die of disease and starvation every day. I love the title, "A Hole in Our Gospel", reminding us that each and everyone of us is responsible for our neighbor. We are merely stewards of the time, talents and treasures that God has given us. All these gifts were not meant for us, but to share with the needy
Think about the African saying: "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito." Read this book, and then pass it along to a friend.
- The Hole in Our Response to the Gospel
You probably will not be surprised by anything you read in this book. While it may not be a story you read in the newspaper every morning or hear every evening on the nightly news you have to admit you have some knowledge of the how poor much of the world. You know a little bit about how AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in Africa. Well, Richard Stearns knows a whole lot more about all of these subjects and more, as the president of Word Vision U.S. This book gives an account of his calling from being a CEO of a luxury goods company to president of an organization who make sit their purpose to help and reach out to the "Least of these."
This was not an easy transition for the author; it was an internal struggle over the comfort and security of his current life and the uncertainty and discomfort that his new job would place him in. Not only does Stearns give his an account of his own story but he accounts how the world and even more the Christian church has turned its eye from "really" taking care of our fellow man. He does not champion the fact that feeding, clothing and caring for people is the same as sharing the gospel with them, but rather that feeding, clothing and caring for those less fortunate then us should be our response to the gospel we now have in us.
The last part of the book is spent by Stearns addressing the reader with what they can do. How they can get involved, contribute or help repair this hole that has developed in our gospel. Like I said before you will not really be surprised by much you read in this book. I think if you are honest with yourself you would admit you knew things like this happened, but you probably never really did anything about it. I am almost certain you will be moved by the stories in this book and be motivated to start doing something, I know I was.
- Patching the Hole
Before reading "The Hole in our Gospel", the back cover gave me pause. How much was I going to gain from a book recommended by Madelein Albright?
Quite a lot, actuallly. There are many areas where Mr. Stearns and I disagree theologically (see below). However, we are in perfect agreement when it comes to the overall point of his book--that the Western church is altogether oblivious to the great needs being faced by the rest of the world.
Richard Stearns knows what he is talking about. Once the CEO of Parker Brothers (of Monopoly fame) and Lenox (makers of find china), Stearns accepted the call of God (and subsequent dramatic cut in salary) to become executive director of World Vision--a Christian organization dedicated to bringing relief to the poorest regions of the world. The book is in a large part his own testemony of how God brought him from said oblivion to a burning passion to help the poor.
The book is full of heart-wrenching stories--many of them first-hand accounts--that should galvanize Christians to action. One that brought me to tears was the account of a Hatian woman offering her starving children to passing strangers with the words "You pick, just feed them."
One thing I appreciated about this work was that Stearns did not let it become a screed against the rich and powerful, nor did it descend to the anti-American depths of Shane Clayborn's "Jesus for President". Rather it is an impassioned appeal to the portion of the Church which has experienced material blessing to be generous with that part of the world which has not.
I also appreciated the fact that the book is not completely in bed with liberal politics. While Stearns pays the predictable respects to the likes of Jimmy Carter, there are many examples in the book that can and should be appreciated by social and fiscal conservatives like myself. Consider this description of Uganda's encouraging fight agains the AIDS epidemic:
"Then Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, declared war on AIDS as a threat to Uganda's future and security. He called on every sector of Ugandan society--schools, churches, the media, businesses, and the health care system--to join the battle and invited international governments and aid agencies to help. Education was central to his campaign, and he and his wife even went door-to-door offering AIDS tests. Billboards were visible everywhere, calling people to absinence, faithfulness to one partner, and safer sexual choises as part of one's patriotic duty. The result was astounding. The incidence of HIV infctions fell from 21 percent to about 6 percent between 1991 and 2000."
Did Madelein Albright read that section?
The above section also highlights another aspect of the book I appreciated. Though Stearns paints a pretty bleak picture at times, the tone of the book is positive and hopeful. The reader comes away thinking "Perhaps there IS something that can be done" or, better yet, "Perhaps there is something I can do!"
As I hinted at above, I cannot end this review without a doctrinal caution. It worries me when I read phrases like this:
"More and more our view of the gospel has been narrowed to a simple transaction, marked by checking a box on a bingo card at some prayer breakfast, registering a decision for Christ, or coming forward during an altar call."
While I am totally in his camp when it comes to "registering a decision for Christ" and "coming forward during an altar call" the phrase "simple transaction" bothers me. We are talking about what Christ accomplished on the cross, which--while indeed a transaction--was anything but simple. I fear that while we try to make the Gospel about more than the cross, we make it about less than the cross.
We need to be very clear that acts of charity, selflessness, and generosity are not the means of grace, but its outward demonstration.
Having said that, I would encourage all Western believers to read this book. I hope it will challenge you as it did me....more info
- Cuts to the Heart of the Gospel
The narrative is at its strongest when it cuts to the heart of Jesus Christ's message, using biblical quotes and personal examples of the author's struggle to live a Christ-centered life, rather than a Christian lifestyle. I am grateful to Richard Stearns for sharing his personal struggles to live Christ's Good News, and for providing so many Biblical passages that call us to Christ-like behavior.
Some of his quotes are terrific: "it's not what you believe that counts but what you believe enough to do," (Gary Gulbranson) or "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car," (Billy Sunday). And the chart on page 230 comparing "Perceptions of Christians" (by outsiders) verses "Attributes of Christ" (that insiders ought to make a commitment to gaining) is terrific, too. For instance, "antihomosexual" (for Perception of...) and "loving to all" (for attribute of Christ) drives the point home that Mr. Stearns makes (and backs up with Scripture) that Christ called us not to judge (and by extension, to condemn) but to love.
Now for the cons. The book reads too often like a telethon with the author pulling on our heart strings; he falls back (heavily) on statistics, statistics and more statistics, and often waxes melodramatic, talking too often about children who have to "literally" care for parents on their death bed. And his writing style is a tad condescending. "You got that?" is one of his favorite catch phrases. To echo Richard Stearns, "Duh!", I mean, yes, we understand...
The book would have been better, I think, if it had been shorter: there is a feeling, as the pages mount, of a dead horse being beaten: People are in need, what are you going to do about it; people are in need, what are you going to do... And finally, underneath the repeated question, "What are you going to do?" I got the impression we are expected to answer, "Contribute to World Vision, specifically." In spite of my irritation at all the cons, this book is worth reading. We all know how to shoot past the repetitive, melodramatic or otherwise irritating to get to the central message, and here, it's a message worth repeating: becoming born again is a life-long process that takes making a day-to-day commitment to obeying Christ's commandment, through action: feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, care for the young and otherwise vulnerable among us. ...more info
- Challenging and Interesting
This is actually a book that I will keep on my bookshelf & plan on reading again....it offered a nice balance of facts versus personal experiences versus other people's life stories. The author is very up front from the beginning about his own struggles not only in becoming the leader of World Vision, but in his continuing struggles to not just let the problem become 'words on a page' and too far from home, something I found refreshing. I would highly recommend the book to anyone, especially Americans. He doesn't place blame, but instead shows how easy it is to forget about others, even those with great needs, while inspiring us to do whatever we can - remember the starfish story, about helping just one? There are a few neat, true, stories spread throughout about the impact just one person's life can have, whether it be a person in poverty or a person living here in the US with plenty. I highly recommend this book....more info
- Real Christianity
Richard Stearns is the real thing--he calls to mind such Catholic pioneers as Dorothy Day, Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, and a host of other giants.
Having had a tremendous spiritual conversion to Christianity, Stearns did not choose to hide in an evangelical cloud of imaginary evils and condemnation. Rather, he quit his job as CEO of Lenox Inc, a huge corporation, and flew to Uganda to see if he could be of help.
The stories in this book are both heartbreaking and completely inspiring. Stearns is a rare breed these days--a Christian who backs up his mouth with his money and time--and if we do not learn from this man's story we will never learn. ...more info
- The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns
In The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the author and president of World Vision describes the void that has been created by a Christianity that has altered and weakened the Gospel. He shares his story, and those of so many others, whose lives have not only been transformed by the Gospel, but by those who seek to live that Gospel out.
I had a difficult time staying involved with the book at the onset, but as soon as I reached Part 3, I couldn't put the book down. It's easy to be detached in sections describing the definition of the Gospel, after all, I'm a pastor, this is something I talk about constantly. But when confronted with the statistics and stories of the state of things beyond our church properties, I became sick to my stomach.
And that is my hole. It's become so easy, so natural to focus on and worry about me and my needs, and in the process failing to remember that the primary distinction between myself and them is simply my place of birth.
This book should come with a warning. Definitely worth a read, but don't read it unless you're ready to be challenged.
I was given the opportunity to review this book as part of the Book Review Blogging Program for Thomas Nelson Publishing. [...]...more info
- Speaks volumes for the need for committment in this world
Yes -- this book "might just change the world"!!
You don't need to practice any religion to see the point of this book -- our compassion and empathy are so sorely needed in this world-- we CAN be the Change we seek, in a peaceful caring, way -- to so many in this country and overseas -- who have little or nothing compared to what we have.
Even in these cash-strapped times, anything we can do to make life easier for those who have lived with poverty and glaring need, WILL make a difference -- to them AND to us as well.
We all need to know that someone cares for us. That is a basic human need. We all need to know that there are millions of people all over the world (including our own country) who live in abject poverty, illness and misery -- none of which is necessary, given the advances in medicine and resources today. Richard Stearns even tells us about people who are eating buttered dirt to keep their stomachs from rumbling.
One person, doing something, multiplied by millions of other "one person"s also doing something -- will, as Stearns shows so clearly -- make a tremendous difference.
I commend Richard Stearns and his wife for all they are doing as this book more than amply tells us.
Now who will go out and do likewise???
(But Richard, if she still wants it..... will you please allow your wife the luxury of at least one fine china place setting???)
- A powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct
Thanks, first, to Thomas Nelson for this review copy of The Hole In Our Gospel.
Richard Stearns is President of World Vision. In this book he proves to not only be a capable businessman and leader, but a powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct. From page one, Stearns sets out to address the missing link in the gospel found in many churches in America - a gospel often missing compassion for the hurting, sick, dejected and downtrodden. It is filled with scripture, quotes, personal stories, and facts that will inspire you to give, serve and call on others to do the same.
As a comparison, I recently read Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. Chan's goal is to help believers get out of the rut of complacent Christian life, devoid of passion and the guidance of the Spirit. While Chan provides a general kick in the backside, Stearns is much more precise. One leaves Chan thinking, "I should do something, and I could do something." After Stearns, you will say, "This had better be what I am doing in one way or another."
Stearns is self-abasing and transparent to a level that is startling, but refreshing. He shares his call to serve with World Vision, a call that is full of jumps and spurts, as he attempts to avoid all that God has done in his life to position him for this role. Chapter 3 especially provides a glimpse into how God worked in his life. It is clear that Stearns does not want to give the impression that he is the perfectly motivated and compassionate person who demands us to be like him. Rather, he calls on us to pray a prayer with him, that our hearts would break for the things that break God's heart.
Stearns is not suggesting everyone leave for Uganda. Rather, he wants them to get personally involved in the full gospel. He presents this as "planting seeds" and "watering" (p.19), rather than just waiting for the harvest. This means caring for kids with serious needs like hunger, poverty and disenfranchisement. This means helping families and societies move in the right direction by providing them skills, training and hope, rather than just handing out food and cash recklessly. He is careful to balance and articulate faith and works that prove our faith.
WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - is presented as more than just cliche. Stearns wants believers to really think about Jesus' actions with every decision they make so that they will act accordingly. Jesus is shown in scripture to be someone who was moved to help the blind, sick and rejected. And this is not just for the "spiritual" - those called to "full-time" Christian service.
Chapter 18 "Putting the American Dream To Death" is required reading for every American believer, in my opinion. It provides a necessary critique of our common acceptance of a system that runs contrary to God's way of thinking. Not that equality or the ability to pursue our hopes is wrong. But when we do so at the expense of others, and with the full knowledge that our material comfort is out of reach to billions (p. 204), we need to seriously question our motives and way of living.
Stearns' voice is clear and direct. His use of scripture shows a real love for God and for the things that God is concerned with. I have found few other authors who write in this fashion, and with such passion. Chapters 19 and 20, which deal with giving within the Church, present a minor glitch in an otherwise flawless example of precise and accurate writing. They are not as clear or direct, seeming pulled or half-hearted in comparison to the rest of the book. But following this brief section, the clarity and directness revive to the end of the book.
This is a read that will compel every reader to follow Jesus into a life of compassion and service, whether overseas or at home. I have already recommended it to many of my friends as it has repeatedly come up in conversation....more info
- You can't read this without being affected and convicted...
There are few books that have made me examine my Christian faith more than this one... The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Sterns. Sterns is the president of World Vision, and he tells his story of how he went from high-powered corporate CEO to the head of an aid agency that affects the lives of millions. It was not a path he traveled comfortably, but it's a journey that has changed his life forever. Moreover, he lays out how the average American Christian has neglected a core message of the Bible, and how we need to change to respond to the needs of our planet.
Part 1 - The Hole In My Gospel - And Maybe Yours: A Hole in the Whole; A Coward for God; You Lack One Thing
Part 2 - The Hole Gets Deeper: The Towering Pillars of Compassion and Justice; The Three Greatest Commandments; A Hole in Me; The Stick in Your Hand
Part 3 - A Hole In The World: The Greatest Challenge of the New Millennium; One Hundred Crashing Jetliners; What's Wrong with This Picture?; Caught in the Web; The Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders; Finally, the Good News
Part 4 - A Hole In The Church: A Tale of Two Churches; The Great Commission; AWOL for the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of All Time; Putting the American Dream to Death; Two Percent of Two Percent; A Letter to the Church in America; Why We're Not So Popular Anymore; A Tale of Two Real Churches
Part 5 - Repairing The Hole: What Are You Going To Do About It?; How Many Loaves Do You Have?; Time, Talent, and Treasure; A Mountain of Mustard Seeds
Richard Sterns was a successful corporate CEO, working at Lenox, when his life started to change. A good friend of his was convinced that Sterns would be the next leader of World Vision. Sterns was less than enthused with that "vision", however. While he was involved in his church, he had no feeling of a call to serve as a leader of a Christian relief agency. He barely knew where Africa was, much less understood what was going on there. He tried just about everything he could to avoid making the move, but God and circumstances had other plans. He finally came to the point where he surrendered to the leading, and was forever changed. He was brought face to face with the unthinkable needs and human suffering in places like Africa. And it's there that this book issues a call to action...
The American Church has been too inwardly focused on their own lives and needs, which in nearly all cases don't even begin to compare to the soul-crushing situations in third world countries. We've ignored the calls to feed the hungry and care for the homeless and orphans. We've latched on to salvation by faith, but we've completely minimized the role of works in our Christian life. Even if we're faithful in giving, it's often used in ways that don't address the necessity to be involved in the needs of our world. And don't even get me started about the whole "prosperity gospel" preaching that places our own riches as the highest calling of our Christian lives. In short, we've abdicated our responsibility as Christians, and we'll be called to account for it.
If you can read this book and not feel the need to make changes in your life, you're not paying attention. I have to make some serious changes in how I view my role globally and what I do about it. ...more info
- The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
I finished reading The Hole In Our Gospel some time ago. I was unsure of the best way to review this because there is much good and bad in the book. The author Richard Stearns heads the World Vision organization which I support with my money. I understand an appreciate his goal for this organization which he pushes with this book. The cause of helping the afflicted and poor is a noble cause, and I agree with the premise of the book that Christians should be doing a better job of this. My problem is that he declares that this is a forgotten part of the Gospel. That is where the book goes terribly wrong. The Gospel is given properly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. It is about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for our sins according to Scripture. The book pushes our works to the poor as part of the Gospel by using many verses taken out of context. Faith comes from the preaching of the Gospel and our works are not part of it. If the book would have kept from making the message the Gospel, it would have been a wonderful book. But with the adding to of the Gospel done, it unfortunatelymakes the book not recommendable.
- What Does God Require Of Us?
A lot of good things get holes in them. I have discovered holes in my pockets, my socks, my shoes, and just this morning I found a hole in the bottom of the basket in my pool strainer. These are all valuable things--but none as valuable as the gospel.
Richard Stearns says we have a hole in our gospel. In his powerful book, The Hole In Our Gospel he asks, "What does God expect of us?" and then he gives the answer that changed his life and might just change the world.
Having traveled more than a million miles to dozens of countries around the globe as president of world Vision, Stearns shares compelling stories of the revolutionary power of the gospel--the gospel without a hole--that is truly good news for a world broken by poverty, disease, and injustice. And he urges readers to join him in making this vision a reality. As CEO for a large company he lived in a two-hundred-year-old stone farmhouse with ten bedrooms on five acres, drove a royal blue Jaguar XK-8 and had children who loved their school and their friends. He had worked more than twenty years to get to the top of the corporate ladder. He gave it all up. He committed career suicide. He did it for God.
This fresh look at the gospel will take you to a deeper understanding of your own faith and inspire you to do your part to demonstrate God's love for a hurting world. This book broke my heart. I realized that as a minister for forty-seven years that I preached a gospel with a big hole in it. I preached as forcefully and lovingly as I knew how. And yet I never drove home the heart of the gospel. You could have listened to me preach for many years and you could have come to the conclusion that going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins was about all God expected from you as a Christian.
In its simplest form, here is the answer to the question, what does God expect: *We are to love God. *We are to love our neighbors. *We are to go and make disciples of others who will do the same. Read this book and let the impact of Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 change your life.
I agree with Luci Swindoll who said, "Brace yourself...this is one powerhouse book!"
- This Book With Change Your Life
Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.
"Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words."
"God is responsible for the harvest--but we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds."
"We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don't believe He can change the world." - Anonymous
"..the lesson I learned was that God expects us to serve Him on His terms--not ours."
These are all sentences I have highlighted in "The Hole in Our Gospel." Author Richard Stearns is the CEO of World Vision. He explains throughout this book his belief there is a large hole within our Christian community.
"If there is a hole in our gospel, in our understanding of the nature of God's call upon us, His followers, it is not because Scripture is unclear about these issues. Rather it is because we have chosen...to pay little attention to God's unmistakable message to bring the whole gospel to the whole world."
Stearns goes on to explain, "...our problem is that the plight of suffering children in a far-off land simply hasn't gotten personal for us."
Whoa wait a minute, many of us Christians say in response. I give to missions; our church has a mission's lunch, or a mission's month. A survey of pastors was conducted and they were asked what they considered real priorities for churches. From greatest to least: worship, evangelism, children's ministry, discipleship programs, and a low 18% listed helping the poor and disadvantaged people over seas. (pg185 Hole in the Gospel).
Why should we be concerned about the poor overseas, when we have so many in poverty right here? I believe that is valid question, Richard Stearns says, "poverty in America is just as real as poverty in Africa, and it is just as damaging to the human spirit." But realize poverty is not just hunger it is also the bad water, famine, and epidemics.
Stearns does a beautiful job in breaking down the numbers for readers, but realize the United States only consists of 4.5 percent of the world. 4.5% of the world's people live on $105 dollars a day, OVER 40% live on less than $2 dollars a day. (pg 122 The Hole in Our Gospel) The 40% who live on less than $2 a day also deal with bad water, famine, and various epidemics. I am not suggesting we stop helping the poor here in the United States, but I do believe the poverty over seas is larger and more life threatening.
I sponsor Mary through Compassion International. I would sponsor 10 more kids, 100 more kids, 1000 more kids if God allowed me to be able to afford it financially. We are not a wealthy family, live in a small house, and most of my friends have nicer stuff than we do....according to American standards.
Learning about poverty and hearing about it can be depressing and easy for us to become numb towards the numbers.
Often we think, what good will it do? The need is much to great.
What difference will it make if I only support one child?
Let me tell you to that one child, you are making a WORLD of difference. And if the Lord only blesses you financially to provide for only one child, then you have made a difference.
On the other hand, telling others about the children that remain...... is free.
- Read it and know the truth
The Hole in Our Gospel nails the truth of the Gospel clearly, simply, and compellingly. You will know and believe the work of God in the life of Rich Stearns as he shares his journey and how it truly changed his life.
This is for us, in America today. ...more info
- A Call to Action
Have you ever had the feeling there was more that you could do to make a difference in the world? In THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL, Richard Stearns offers practical wisdom about how to do just that. He says God wants us to love Him, to love our neighbors, and to make disciples of others who will do the same.
Who is our neighbor? Since we live in a technological society, Stearns says, the world is really our neighbor. Thus there is no excuse for our ignoring the poor in Africa or other developing nations. Once we might not have known about them, but that is no longer the case. And how do we help them? We move mountains, one shovel at a time if necessary. We go and we do. If you have a hard time getting started, there's a website in the back of the book to help.
Richard Stearns believes that Christians today can change the world just like the disciples did two thousand years ago. Once you read his book, you just might believe that, too....more info
- the second great commandment
"The Hole in the Gospel" is about one man's journey in coming to understand what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. The author's central message is the importance of a sense of global community, awareness of our interconnectedness as human beings, and compassion for our neighbors across the tracks and around the world.
For those who already live lives of service, this book may be enjoyed as a work by a kindred spirit. For those who live more insulated or materialistic lives, this book may be an inspiration....more info
- Plug up the hole in your Gospel.
Richard Stearns wants to wreck you. He wants you to stop thinking about the problems of extreme poverty in the world, especially hunger and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, as something you can't do something about.
Not only can you, but you should. Not only are people getting involved, but we're making progress.
But more than that, the Gospel is not all about what I get from God, but what I can give back, and what I can give to the extreme poor. Jesus said that we'd always have the poor among us (it's a quote from Deuteronomy... check it out yourself), but that's not an excuse to do nothing. It's an opportunity to be Christ's hands and feet in the world.
Richard does a particularly good job of detailing his own amazing story, and that story serves as a springboard for his argument that we, especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus, can and must do something... now... to fill the hole in our Gospel, a hole that was left there when we in the West turned the story of salvation into something merely personal, and not the story of the whole Kingdom of Heaven.
The most important book I've read this year....more info
- Must Read for Everyone!
Recently I was given the opportunity to review Rick Stearns' book "The Hole in Our Gospel." As the President and CEO of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization devoted to helping the "least of these...", no one should have more to say about helping the poor and downtrodden than Stearns himself. Nonetheless, that does not negate the fact that I was honestly very skeptical about a book written by the former CEO of Lenox Inc. Could it actually be THAT interesting or thought provoking? Less than a month later, I can honestly say that this is one of the most challenging and thought provoking books that I have ever read. This is not just a book written to convince the Church of its dereliction of duty in caring for the poor, but is rather a wake up call for Christians to drop the excuses and begin to care for the least, the last, and the lost. The focus of Stearns' book is not so much the Church body as much as the individual. Laced with stories drawn from his own life, as well as stories from the mission fields, "The Hole in Our Gospel" will convict and inspire you all in the same breath. ...more info
- The Hole in Our Gospel
This book is great. It is one I would recommend to all Christians out there. Makes you take a long look at what you mean to the gospel and how God expects us to do and help out. ...more info
- Highly convicting - A must-read
Some books are fluff. Some are thought-provoking. And some should come with a Surgeon General's warning:
WARNING: Reading this book may be dangerous to your spiritual status quo and cause squirming and conviction.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns is one such book.
Richard Stearns wastes no time getting serious, as the Introduction opens with "What does God expect of us?" He then has the "audacity" to suggest that God wants more from us than church attendance, belief, prayer, or avoidance of serious sins. He wants our lives to make a difference in a world around us.
He paints a frighteningly realistic picture of the "bingo card" gospel, explaining that we have long viewed evangelism and the Great Commission as being
. . .about saving as many people from hell as possible--for the next life. It minimized any concern for those same people in this life. It wasn't as important that they were poor or hungry or persecuted, or perhaps rich, greedy, and arrogant; we just had to get them to pray the "sinner's prayer" and then move on to the next potential convert. [To make it] simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of "fire insurance" that one can buy. Then, once the policy is in effect, the sinner can go bak to whatever life he was living--of wealth and success, or of poverty and suffering. As long as the policy is in the drawer, the other things don't matter as much. (p. 17)
Ouch. He continues this message throughout the book as he asserts we cannot keep the Great Commission until we take care of our Great Omission: ignoring the needs of others while we huddle in our churches, which have "become spiritual spas in which we retreat form the world."
I appreciated Richard Stearns's candor as he admits he was Exhibit A. He enjoyed a highly successful career, most recently as the president of Lenox, and he relied faithfully on God, beginning "each day asking, how can I love, serve and obey God today,in this place with these people?" It was with much protesting and reluctance that he moved his family across the country to become World Vision's U.S. president. And his life hasn't been the same since. Nor have the lives of those whom he has touched.
This is not a comfortable book to read. But it is a necessary one with a message we can't afford to ignore. Read it and be moved. . .to action.
- amazing book~
I bought this book for my husband, so I have actually not read it yet. But he reads excerpts to me and told me he'd give it 5 stars. It seems like a really amazing story about how God called Stearns to lead World Vision.
God is using this book to confirm a new direction and focus to which he is calling my husband and me....more info
- A Book Everyone Should Read!
Every once in a great while I run across a book so relevant, inspiring and convicting that I want every one I know to read it. The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns is one of those books.
This is a book I highlighted, pondered, and read out loud to whoever would listen. In it, Mr. Stearns, president of World Vision, shares his own story of being pulled from his "American dream" life to work among the world's poorest.
Reading Mr. Stearn's testimony is reason enough to pick up this book. He writes from a place I could completely relate to. He did not condemn me or the church, but he did issue the challenge to do more. He challenged Christians throughout the book to "embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways", and to present the whole gospel to the world instead of just "going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins."
Throughout the book Mr. Stearns discusses the issue of poverty and the American churches lack of response to it. He shares stories of people who were able to rise above poverty and ways we can help more people do the same. He encourages the reader to take the time, talents and treasure God has given, search out God's purpose for themselves and act to change the world.
The message in this book is an important one. I hope many people read it, and more importantly, I hope many people are moved to action as a result. ...more info
- Just What I Needed
On occasion you will find a book that inspires or challenges. Even more rarely, you will find a book that spurs you to action. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns does all of this. The book tells the story of CEO Richard Stearns' call to service while at the same time painting a clear picture of the social issues facing our world today.
The Hole in Our Gospel inspires all of us who have been lulled to complacency by our blessings. In addition it challenges the readers to evaluate their worldview in light of the words of Christ. One need not be a Christian to be challenged by the book, but those who are will find the challenge all the more compelling.
The book is not content to merely describe the justice issues facing our world. Nor is it content to merely describe people and organizations who are working to address those issues. The book challenges everyone to make a difference. It requires a choice: to take action or to ignore the plight of millions around the world. I found it to be just the fillip I needed.
This book was reviewed as a part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program - http://brb.thomasnelson.com/
- But Will We Listen?
This is an excellent textbook in social concern for the Christian. Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, makes a very thorough argument for the necessity of Christian concern for "the least of these" around the world. He begins personally, discussing his own calling from a lucrative position as CEO of Lenox to leadership of World Vision. This section of the book is, at one and the same time, both fascinating and terribly annoying. It is fascinating to hear the very honest struggle story of anyone dealing with a calling from God. But it is annoying to think that the "sacrifices" being discussed are a ten room mansion and a Jaguar company car. While Stearns is very open in his recognition of the superficiality of his sacrifice, it is still annoying to think we American Christians would struggle with such choices. It is further evidence of the struggle Stearns is discussing. I am very glad he included this in the book, even though it makes him look initially superficial. I believe it is important for people to understand God regularly makes demands like this.
Another fact I find troubling in this book is that Stearns feels the need to spend 230 of his 280 pages making a theological, moral and ethical case for basic Christian concern. Are we really so completely selfish as a culture that we now require 230 pages of argument for fundamentally Christian, obviously Good Samaritan behavior? I've been reading books exactly like this since the late 70's; is it really necessary to spend all this time still making a case like this? Isn't this stuff obvious to us by now? Sadly, as a pastor, I suspect it is necessary. Stearns handles this important, foundational material very well. His discussion is very readable and sadly, probably very necessary.
Yet the most important and powerful parts of the book are the stories. Whenever Stearns shares the simple stories of the struggle, I found myself instantly engaged and challenged. I've heard all the arguments many, many times before, but when I hear new stories, I am forced to once again take them seriously.
This is a good, well-written and very necessary book. It is worth the time and well worth sharing with a friend. Hopefully we will all read and listen!...more info
- Recommended for all those who have been Blessed
The first thing I thought when I read the title of this book, was that it was a new attack by some critic of the Bible. It is just the opposite. It is an attempt to uncover the true gospel, that we have somewhat buried by trying to live up to our image of what a Christian should be instead of actually living the gospel. I won't tell you what the "hole" is, but I can say that if you thank God for how many blessings He has bestowed upon you, then you really need to read this book. You will be blessed....more info
- Is there a hole in your gospel?
How does an Ivy league graduate running a major corporation end up leaving his life of jaguars and corporate jets behind to minister to people dying of AIDS in Africa? All I can say is read The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and perhaps you will be challenged to reevaluate your own place in this world. This isn't a long review because it doesn't need to be. Read the book, consider your own life and ask yourself, "is there a hole in my gospel?"...more info
- It's that important
I just finished reading The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns. Stearns tells a powerful and compelling story of the events that lead him from being the President and CEO of the Lennox China Company to his current role at World Vision. But it's about more than just his transition. Stearns spends the first third of the book skillfully interweaving his own story with the story of people in need from all over the world. The middle section gives one of the best summaries I have ever read about the scope of world need as well as some of the good news of what is currently happening to address that need. In the final section of the book he takes a hard look at the church of Jesus Christ, calling us to begin to focus on taking action to address the need in our world.
What do I think of the book? This is the point where I should put together some eloquent phrases to tantalize your literary taste buds - a time to create in you a hunger to read the book. But instead of doing that let me just say this. Everyone I know who calls themselves a follower of Jesus needs to read this book. Several times. And not read it as a way to feel more spiritual, but as truth and challenge to be integrated into life. Stearns is hard on the North American church...but with good reason. He believes that Jesus has called us to love the poor and needy, a claim that is hard to deny. He has added fuel to mental fires that have been burning in my head for the past several years. While I can't say I always liked what he writes, I can say that I think he is right.
You should read this book.
It's that important....more info
- A Hole In The Gospel*Is There a Hole in Your Heart?
Title and Author: A Hole is the Gospel by Richard Stearns.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
I am not much of a non-fiction reader but the author Richard Stearns has converted me. The synopsis and artful book cover drew me to it. I won't go into the book blurb because you can read it on this site. Moreover, I want to review what the book did for me personally.
As a person who has served overseas herself as a missionary (that wuold be me) in 3rd world nations, and who has a heart for the world's needy, I felt a quick connection to the author. His heart and words were my expereince. Only he gave me a reminder of why we are actually here on earth; to serve. Reminded me that my work is far from finished.
What is so unique about the book, reflecting in the title and book cover, is if you go through the gospels and take out every place that talks about helping the poor, that there will be hardly anything left of the Bible at all.
Rich Stearns gets to the meat of the matter by singling out just one nation that needs attention (mulitply this by thousands of places just like this on earth). He gives us a new journey, a new vision one that is Bibically oriented. It doesnt matter what we have done, it is what we are doig now, today. This book lets us know that the contribution of EACH of us is tantamount to truly making a dent in the ravages of poverty and the illnesses that go along with it. And we must.
The book is endorsed by amazing people and as I pass this book around in my circle of Christian friends, they all feel an incredible call on their lives to do something more. This is an inclusive book that everyone should read; Christians and non-Christians; everyone.
When I first came back from the mission field, many years ago, I thanked God for hot water everytime I turned on the faucet. Everytime I put food into my mouth I thanked God. When I laid down at night and pulled the clean sheet up over my body, I thanked God. I need to return to those first days...we become so complacent.
The thought began to go through my head...what if, I had not been born to my parents? What if I had been born to a poor villager some place in the world? And this feeling of, because I was born in this nation of the United States, I was born to help others.
Thank you, Mr. Stearns and World Vision. And the glory goes to God.
Reviewer: Robin Shope
The Christmas Edition (soon to be a movie)
The Valentine Edition
The Easter Edition 2010WildcardThe Christmas Edition (Turtle Creek Edition, Book 1)The Valentine Edition...more info
- The shape of good news is a filled hole
Saved by faith. Saved for works.
Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, describes the relationship between faith and works in his compelling book The Hole In Our Gospel (Nelson). I expected the president of World Vision to take on the Western church's blindness toward both the practical and spiritual needs of the rest of the world. What I didn't expect from this readable book was the gentle humility with which Stearns writes. He is not a compassion superstar. He is a guy who thinks and talks like most of us. His honesty about his unwillingness to make a lifestyle change drew me into the book.
He thought he'd paid the cost of discipleship by being involved at church, being a generous donor, keeping his kids enrolled in Christian schools, and sponsoring a few World Vision kids. He was living an upper-class suburban Christian life in his position as the CEO of Lenox, the china company when a headhunter overseeing an executive-level search on behalf of a non-profit called him.
Stearns recounted the phone call:
"The way I see it, you seem to be looking for someone who is part CEO, part Mother Theresa, and part Indiana Jones, and I don't know anyone like this. You might find two out of three, but probably not all three. But I'll keep my eyes and ears open, and if I think of someone, I'll be sure to call you." I was kind of hoping to keep this call as short as possible. It was dangeous.
But then came the other standard question headhunters tend to ask: "What about you?" he said. "Would you have an interest in this job?"
"Me?" I laughed uncomfortably. "I don't think so. I am not qualified, not interested, and not readily available." What did I know about the poor anyway - didn't this guy remember I was running a luxury goods company? This was crazy.
It turned out not to be crazy at all. It turned out to be God's calling - and the messy process of uprooting his family, taking a huge pay cut, and having his heart broken with the things that break God's heart form the structure for this worthwhile book. When Stearns quotes data about poverty, AIDS, or the need for clean drinking water, it is tied to his own learning curve as a Christ-follower. The stories he tells will stay with you (the story of Margaret forgiving the man who mutilated her still haunts me, days after reading it).
The book comforts, confronts, and invites - and is a worthwhile read for anyone who is disquieted by the words in the book of James:
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." - James 2:14-18
And that "anyone" should be each one of us who calls themselves a Christ-follower. ...more info
- A Book that is Right On for Christians to Read
Stearns writes a thorough book about the reality of utter poverty and suffering in the world and the Biblical charge to Christians to remember the poor and to ameliorate their situation. My main concern in reviewing this book is to emphasize that this is a message that the prosperous Christians of the West need to hear and take to heart. Stearns does an excellent job including Scriptures as the basis for his call to readers to respond to the needs of the poor throughout the world. This is a Scriptural truth that we should no longer ignore, as the evidence shows that we generally have been ignoring it.
As CEO of World Vision, this book shares much about that organization and its helpful work around the world. Stearns also shares about his transition from CEO of Lennox to CEO of World Vision and how this has transformed his life and view of the world. The book jacket states that he gave up worldly success to take this job; however, I think a salary as CEO of World Vision is still successful by any worldly standards. But this is the mindset that Stearns is confronting throughout his book. We give up luxuries and call it a sacrifice; meanwhile, millions of people have no food, shelter or basic care. This book's message is that we Christians are called to really sacrifice for their sake.
The book is too wordy unfortunately, but the message is so urgent that I encourage you, especially Christians, to read this book and to respond by finding the best way to help. ...more info
- A truly profound message for today's Christians
I found it ironic that less than a week after talking to my pastor about how I was feeling somewhat unfulfilled in my Christian life, this book arrived at my door and helped open my heart and mind to what I was missing. I am one of those people that loves to join in and do things for their church. I do weekly announcement slideshows, photography at church events, perform music for services each week, and help with the church website. If someone needs something done, they can always ask me and I'm ready to help. But I still felt like I hadn't really found anything that truly fulfilled me and made me feel like I had changed the world for the better. I've always had a great compassion for the poor and more than most people, had read about and understood the issues of many of the poorer countries of the world, and particularly the problems with AIDs and malaria. I have friends that are researchers for malaria so understand particularly how difficult that disease is to treat and eradicate in endemic areas.
The Hole in Our Gospel really spoke to my heart about how little I really do to help the poor of the world. In some ways, I felt that *because* I understand and know about the issues more than most people, I have even less excuse for how little I do. In particular, I was struck by the problem in many areas of having clean water and how little it costs to provide it ($1 per person a year). Compared to so many complex and difficult issues...how easy this one is to solve, and what a shame that we have not been able to do it for more people!
I hope that everyone that has run across this page and seen all the reviews for this wonderful book will pick up a copy and let it touch them...and then share it with someone else you know. It has a wonderful study guide in the back as well, and I hope many churches might offer a group study to talk about it and the lessons and challenges it presents to us. This is a hard-hitting book that challenges all of us to think more about how much we have and how little we truly give to those who are most in need. ...more info
- A great bok about closing the gap between what we believe and who we reflect.
Sometimes you have to let go of something good, to make room for something great. That's what author Richard Stearns had to learn when he was asked to give up his dream job as a corporate CEO to become the president of World Vision. I loved reading about the many ways God worked through people and circumstances to convince Stearns to accept the assignment and God's plan for his life. I also enjoyed the specific examples the author provided to show how World Vision is reaching out to the poorest of the poor to share God's love.
On page 167, for example, the author wrote about a widow who lived with her children in a community perched high up in the Andes Mountains. After meeting with this woman and hearing how she had prayed to God for help after her husband died, Stearns realized that people all across the world were crying out to God in desperation and each of us who claim to be His followers are to be His answer. (see page 167)
The Hole In Our Gospel is both an informational and inspirational read. One that challenges all of us to live out 1 John 3:18 as we love, not just with words, "but with actions and in truth." Stearns made a compelling call to action on page 107 when he revealed that "anyone earning fifty thousand a year has an income higher than 99 percent of the people in the world." Knowing that the average American is wealthy by comparison serves as a statistical reminder of our ability and our responsibility to reach out to the remaining 1 percent.
This book is very well written and I recommend it to all who are looking to close the gap between what they believe and who they reflect.
- interesting book but flies in the face of Jesus' own words
The author's premise is that there is something missing in most Christians' gospel message. The missing hole is a lack in taking care of the poor and other misfortunate ones. Though in Acts the apostles came up with an exhortation to take care of the poor which Paul acknowledge he was eager to do, the center and circumference of the Christian gospel is Christ Himself not good works. As such the theological basis of this book is very deficient....more info
- The Hole in Our Gospel - A true conviction
_222_1000_book43coverThe title captured my attention immediately, I was very intrigued to begin reading this book. The book is titled 'The Hole in Our Gospel' and is written by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision. But, Richard Stearns did not start off as the president of such an organization, he was actually a corporate CEO who was convicted and set his once thought of successes aside to discover the full power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What I was curious about was why he mentioned the Hole in our Gospel. As I continued to read his convicting words, I soon realized what was meant by this powerful title. As Christians we are to help all mankind and more importantly we must help the poor and destitute of this world. He mentions how we can easily get accustomed to our many worldly possessions and lose the entire focus that the Lord's message has set out for us.
This book and the message it sends out is extremely convicting and will make you think very long and hard about what our purpose is and what we are meant to do as believer's of Jesus Christ.
Stearns gave up his life as a corporate mogul for one that would take him to third world countries to help the indigent and the poor. Not all of us are able to do this, but we can still do our part in following God's word. We must try to help those that are less fortunate and appreciate what we have.
Too often we are blinded by the newest and latest gadgets, clothing, automobiles and more and find ourselves wanting more instead of less. Reading this book, will open your eyes to what is important in life and having luxuries is not a priority. Obeying God's word is the priority and then and only then will we be truly satisfied.
The Hole in Our Gospel is a true testimony of Stearn's continuous journey and one that is not easy. He is not one to accuse others but mainly is pointing the finger at himself and the life he once led. This is a very moving and emotional book and will definitely make you think about your faith and your contentment with your life.
Too often we will read the Gospel and make it apply to the lives we lead, and we must actually read with a humble heart and appreciate what we have. The hole has been created by people and we as people can fill that hole. We may not be able to leave our jobs and begin a new life or ministry as Stearns did, but we can live our lives differently by praising our Father daily. We can help people in our own communities as well as in other parts of the world. More importantly we must be aware that those situations exist and not live in a bubble. That is the true conviction this book brings out. A very well written and moving book that will change many people's lives....more info
- Changing the World
The Bible is full of calls by God for the faithful to clothe the naked, tend to the sick, and feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and in general to show compassion. Yet despite the great wealth of many Christians in the West, there is a great disconnect regarding these teachings as it applies to those less fortunate in much of the world. This failing is the backdrop for Richard Stearns' plea for the Church to live up to its calling and repair what he considers the hole in our Gospel.
Indeed, with The Hole in Our Gospel, Stearns calls on his experience as President of World Vision U.S. to bring home the Church's failing in avoiding direct involvement in those parts of the Christian message less concerned with politics and more concerned with the everyday existence and even survival of a significant percentage of the world's population.
Stearns uses the recollection of his own conversion in the midst of personal difficulties, and his understanding of how the Lord wanted him to hold nothing back, to serve as a launching pad for the discussion. We cannot truly be doing the Lord's work when we treat the suffering of others with complete indifference while we live in suburban palaces.
Over the next few chapters, the author outlines just how bad things are once you leave the comfortable confines of the West. Much of the rest of the world lives in squalor with the most basic needs not met and diseases that were eradicated in the West long ago still a constant presence. Of course, the ravages of AIDS, a disease whose deadly path modern medicine has only managed to slow down, spreads through much of the world unabated leaving in its wake orphans who must then fend for themselves by whatever means possible. It is an ugly and brutal world - one we in the West naively think disappeared long ago - and hope is a rare commodity under these circumstances.
Stearns makes a passionate plea for the Church to wake up to the suffering around us and to be the Church. He finishes with stories of how those who have contributed have brought relief to the suffering of many. The Gospel changes hearts but it should also change the world. ...more info
- Crafting a Whole Gospel
Oh, wow. Talk about a book that will make you determine if you are really living out the "second greatest commandment." Richard Stearns, once the president and CEO of the luxury good manufacturer Lenox and now president of World Vision U.S., relates his journey from unbeliever, to sold-out believer, to comfortable believer, to afflicted believer who must evaluate his practice of caring for the "least of these."
Stearns makes the fantastic point that, unlike previous generations, we have removed the three major impediments to loving and caring for our distant neighbors: awareness, access, and ability. In older times, it was possibly acceptable for the populations of the Western world to stay their hands from caring for those in disease in poverty in the Third World, but this is no longer the case.
Where earlier generations did not possess timely news sources that reported on need, we can watch live video or listen to first hand accounts within minutes over the phone and internet. Where our parents and grandparents could not simply buy plane tickets and fly into depressed areas of the world, we can now do so for relatively low cost. Where making ends meet for most Americans used to actually mean putting food on the table seven days in a row, it now means making the payments on our three bedroom house, our two cars, and paying off our flatscreen TV.
The author points out this gaping hole in our implementation of the Gospel. If you were to go through the Bible and read it with an eye for what breaks God's heart, after sin and rejection of God we would find injustice and poverty. If we were to ask God, "Why do you allow this injustice and poverty to continue?" God would likely answer, "I commanded the Church to take care of it."
I'm reminded of the words of Brooke Fraser's Albertine. "Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead."
The real rub behind all this is that, where individual action is important, what is really needed is mass action on a global, big "C" Church scale. Individually we have the ability to change a life, together we could change the world....more info
- It's not about the statistics, but the statistics are astonishing.
26,500 children died yesterday. 26,500 died today. 26,500 will die tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, all due to poverty-related causes (lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of medical care, etc.). And yet each one of these deaths is preventable, provided that those with means - you, for instance - each do a part to combat the poverty and hunger that is rampant in many parts of the world. This is the message that Richard Stearns is trying to bring to our attention, a wakeup call to Christians everywhere. Something's missing in our modern vision of the Gospel, the "Good News" that we (the church) are supposed to spread to a lost and dying (in more ways than one) world. Somewhere over the last 2000 years we've lost sight of true religion, God's religion: "to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world," (James 1:27b, NKJV*) and "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17, NKJV*)
"The Hole in Our Gospel" is not a book about statistics, it's about people, individuals; but the statistics in the book are quite astonishing and eye-opening. However, the numbers presented are justly used to show the quantity of suffering, while the supporting text shows the effectiveness that a single individual's contributions have. Through his own personal experiences, Stearns shows how the Gospel, in its entirety, can truly change the world. That "whole Gospel" includes not just the telling of the good news, but the providing and caring for those in need.
Having just finished "The Hole in Our Gospel," I can confidently say that this is a book that should not be read by the average Christian. That is, it should not be read by the average Christian who wants to remain average.
It is very difficult to write a review of this book without going in-depth into its content; suffice it to say that it is very engaging and very personally challenging at the same time. This book serves as a call to action and a reminder that we were saved for good works (see Ephesians 2:8-10), not just for our own personal gain. Richard Stearns does a phenomenal job of portraying our modern world and our modern church. Time after time I was personally convicted by the words in this book. From tears to anger, shame to sorrow, emotions are stirred by the portrait of those suffering in parts of the world that are not necessarily next door to my house, but are reachable through a variety of methods easily at my disposal.
* New King James Version?, Copyright ? 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version? is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000.
Review is part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program: [...]...more info
- Embodying the Revolution of Good Tidings
Richard Stearns is not known for abusing his platform position in verbose publications. Yet, having steered the globally revered World Vision organization for years in its multi-faceted assault on world hunger, death, depravity and darkness with a mantra of active faith, living hope and radiant love - he certainly has earned the right. The Hole In Our Gospel represents a powerful charge to followers of Christ world-wide.
Following a long line of saints who have blown the horn for a faith-style that is far more than intellectual assents and regulated living (Willard, Wright, McDowell, Compolo, Hybels, Warren) - Stearns astutely provides a stirring flashback to the vivid and cutting reality of the Gospel we are recipients and stewards of. With lines like "we are called to proclaim and embody the Gospel" and "it is to be demonstrated not dictated...spread, not via coercion" he lays a theological foundation for repositioning the need for active faith in the context of the original revolution launched by Jesus. Certainly, his charge is well warranted since a vast majority of Christendom is a far cry from an incarnational revolution of good tidings to the world!
This book is moving. This book is well-framed, well-stated and clearly bubbling up from the heart of a man who has been moved to a life of surrendered and emboldened by years of seeing an unpleasant reality of global proportions. This is a necessary book for the Church to read. It's a battle cry that needs to be resounded regularly throughout communities of Christ-followers perpetually. I applaud Stearns for reviving a message of remembrance in the line of Jesus with poignance, grace and gusto....more info
- Holy Guilt
After the alter call, after the prayers, after you become Christian and find your life transformed, what next? Often, the most vocal Christians among us are most desperate for meaning in life. Tub-thumping pastors stress the majesty of salvation and the power of grace and forget to clarify what the rest of our lives will look like. Not Richard Stearns. He offers a road map to find your Christian vocation and see what God wants the rest of your life to look like.
Mixing memoir, Bible study, and exhortation, Stearns insists that salvation is not the end of the faith journey. We are not just saved, but saved for good works. He uses himself as an example: fighting his way from a poor youth to the top of the business world, he still found his life empty. But Jesus gave him a purpose, brought him humility, and led him from a lucrative but hollow career in luxuries to a fulfilling role at the head of one of the largest Christian charities.
Stearns writes for Christians who have become lost in the message of splendor. We are called, he says, to live for others. We are the body of Christ, and are meant to live not for our own aggrandizement, but to serve as His hands among the poor, naked, sick, and hungry of the earth. Stearns shows us, from his work in the world and God's message of the scripture, how we can find what the Lord expects us to do with our lives, living out the salvation we have been given.
Reading this book, I felt the same "holy guilt" that pierced my heart with Shane Claiborne and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Stearns convicts me in the Spirit that there is more I should do, with Christ holding me up. I recommend this book for pastors seeking congregational mission, laypeople wondering what God expects of our lives, Bible studies, private reading, and public exhortation. Gentle but acute, this book reminds us why Christ as chosen us, and how we show Him our love....more info
- Life Changing
This is one of the best books I have read. The perspective Richard Stearns brings is awesome. If you read this and are not compelled to change at all, the hole in you is way too large....more info
- One of the best books I have read in years.
I strongly encourage you to read the Hole in Our Gospel. Rich has a powerful message that the world and the church need to hear. The book will make you laugh, cry, and will challenge you to act to be a true ambassador of Christ. ...more info
- Not Mother Teresa in a Business Suit
This is not an easy book to read. You might want to skip it. But if you have the courage, read at least the first 50 pages of Rich Stearn's new book--then you're hooked and you'll finish it. Don't delegate your reading on this one. It's that important.
Few of us get up in the morning and encourage ourselves by reading a book about poverty in some far-off land. But if by chance we looked deep into the sad eyes of a hungry, malnourished child at our front door this morning, our well-toned spiritual gifts would spring into action. We'd likely be on Fox News by 9 a.m. and started yet one more non-profit organization to address the problem by noon.
And that's the problem says Rich Stearns. The corporate CEO who has stewarded World Vision U.S. since 1998 warned the World Vision's search committee that he was not quite "Mother Teresa in a business suit." Far from it. In this remarkable book, WV's president oozes with transparency (you'll be shocked) and tells you what he's learned along the way.
He asks, "What does God expect of us?" Stearns carefully balances Scripture, his own pilgrimage from CEO of Lenox (the fine tableware and gift company) and his corporate Jaguar...to the Ugandan thatch hut of another Richard (this one a 13-year-old, with two younger brothers, and no parents). Along this reading journey, your heart will break often, but you'll be blessed to hear what God is doing around the world.
Before you read the whole book, scan the chapter titles and the more than 50 wisdom quotes and moral jabs (my words) from some of the world's great thinkers, including Mohandas Gandhi who said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Stearns seems to agree. Caution! He challenges the church. He challenges you. He challenges me.
In the RESV rendering of Matthew 25 (the Richard E. Stearns Version), he nails it: "For I was hungry, while you had all you need. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."
Stearns says we have a hole in our gospel--our walk with Christ is missing the "public and transforming relationship with the world." Bono (not our pastors) is admonishing the world that "15,000 Africans are dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases--AIDS, malaria, TB--for lack of drugs that we take for granted." Apparently, we don't care. That's a big hole in our gospel.
Here are a couple of questions you might share with colleagues:
1) Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, said "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." What can you do?
2) Stearns quotes Frederick Buechner: "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Where is that place for you?...more info
- Challenging Call to Live the Gospel
In The Whole in Our Gospel: The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World, Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, makes a call for a holistic gospel which does not just consist of correct theological convictions but also includes having the heart of Jesus for the least of these. This book was a challenge to the American church to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and taking Jesus at his words with regard to the cost of following Him. Stearns notes that American Christianity has embraced an unbiblical view of the gospel and the kingdom of God. The dangerous tendency is to see the gospel and kingdom of God as a far off thing that only matters in eternity, but as Stearns so clearly defends, the gospel should transform the lives of those around us in the world here and now.
This timely challenge is presented clearly through stories of the lives of people who have been impacted positively through the ministry of World Vision and also the struggles that the author has gone through personally in coming to embrace a holistic gospel himself. Stearns does an effective job of presenting the deep needs that are being faced by people all over this planet and connecting it to the great resources and opportunity that we as Christians have toengage these deep needs. This book is a challenging call for Christians and the church to stop talking and theorizing about missions and reaching the world and to embody the gospel by reaching out to serve through your time, talent, and treasures to truly love your neighbor, even your neighbor on the other side of the globe. Reading this book will change your perspective and cause you to reevaluate if there is truly a hole in your gospel....more info
- A book to Challenge You
The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns:
Richard Stearns, a wealthy CEO earning a seven-figure salary, received a call from God he did not want to receive. He was asked to head the charitable organization World Vision, but he would have to give up his salary, large home, and upscale car. His family would have to move and accept a new six-figure salary.
Mr. Stearns envisions a world where Christians band together and donate enough money to end poverty and injustice in the world. He believes that scripture indicates that salvation depends on not only Christ's death on the cross, but also good works to the impoverished, and without both we have a "Hole in Our Gospel".
The book clearly describes the problems around the world with poverty, aids, and injustice, but does not explain in enough detail how money alone can cure all of the ills of the world. While we may not agree with his views on the Gospel, we cannot deny that most American churches do not support the poor and sick in their own neighborhood, or around the world. Missions and missionaries are often underfunded and medical missions lack supplies. I disagree with many of his opinions, but I was challenged by his call for action.
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